Allegations of Aafia’s mistreatment very serious: FO

December 08, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Thursday reaffirmed that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui remained the government’s utmost priority and her lawyer’s recent statements pointing to her alleged sexual abuse had been taken very seriously.

“The prime minister of Pakistan has directed that this matter may be taken up by the Government of Pakistan with the US authorities to investigate the matter and to address it, as these are certainly very serious statements.

Dr Aafia Siddiqui. — Twitter/SenatorMushtaq

We will be taking up this issue with the US Department of State to investigate and to share the findings with us. In the past as well, we have repeatedly requested the US Department of State and Department of Justice as well as the prison authorities of FMC Carswell that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui should not be subjected to any sort of physical or mental abuse. The well-being of Dr Aafia Siddiqui remains our top priority and that of our missions in Washington and Houston,” said the Foreign Office Spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has called for an international conference for long-term peace on the Palestine question and joined the UN secretary general in his call to the international community to end the ongoing situation and avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

Pakistan has also welcomed the secretary general’s decision to invoke Article 99 of the UN Charter to bring to the attention of UN Security Council the dire security situation and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

“This decision of the secretary general demonstrates his conscionable assessment of the catastrophic situation in Gaza. Article 99 of the UN Charter pertains to the responsibilities of the UN secretary general with regard to peace and security and in exercising those responsibilities, the UN secretary general has brought the question of Palestine to the urgent attention of Security Council. And that is why Pakistan has supported the call of UN secretary general for the UN to take urgent measures and impose a ceasefire, and to provide relief to the people of Gaza who are facing an impending genocide,” she explained.

Pakistan says it is critical that the UN Security Council plays its mandated role to impose a ceasefire in occupied Palestine and impress on Israel not to end the inhumane campaign that it has unleashed against the people of Palestine over the last several weeks. “Pakistan strongly and unequivocally condemns the continued use of force by Israel and its indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian facilities and infrastructure in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. The suffering and collective punishment endured by the besieged people of Gaza is unprecedented and unacceptable,” added the spokeswoman.

Pakistan also called on Israel’s “backers” to urge Israel to end its barbaric attacks and inhumane siege of Gaza.

Thursday also saw the continuation of American officials’ visits to Islamabad primarily focused on Afghanistan. American Permanent Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Thomas West met with his Pakistani counterpart Ambassador Asif Durrani at the Foreign Office. “We touched upon various issues in Afghanistan and the international response to it. Both sides emphasized more coordination and cooperation”, remarked Durrani.

The spokeswoman said these meetings between Pakistani and US officials, which had taken place and which will take place today (Friday) as well, will see the US authorities raise any concerns they may have on any issues.

“Similarly, we will also share our observations on matters that need their consideration. With regard to the exit fees (of Afghans presently in Pakistan), I underline that in all countries, individuals who overstay their visas or are in violation of immigration laws, face fines which need to be paid. You may ask the Ministry of Interior about the nature of these fines and the amount of fines that individuals would have to pay while they stay in Pakistan,” she said.

With regard to any statements that come from the Afghan officials, claiming any part of Pakistan’s territory, the spokeswoman said Pakistan had rejected such statements and believed those statements were not based on reality.

“And it is important that the Afghan authorities make efforts to fully consolidate peace in Afghanistan, provide economic relief to the people of Afghanistan and to take immediate effective action against terrorist entities which are based inside Afghanistan, instead of making statements against Pakistan,” she said.

She also pointed out that it was critical that Afghanistan takes concrete effective action against terrorist hideouts and sanctuaries inside Afghanistan that pose a threat to Pakistan. “It is also critical that the action that Afghan authorities take against TTP is robust and demonstrated by concrete results,” she added.

The issue of The News report which pointed out that Afghan leader Sirajuddin Haqqani and other Afghans travelled on a Pakistani passport was brushed aside by the spokeswoman who acknowledged that she had seen the report but, “I do not have the facts to respond to your question.”

With regard to the closure of the Torkham border gate for the fourth time, this time because a sign “Welcome to Pakistan” was put up which annoyed the Afghan border guards, she said: “This was reopened yesterday for all kinds of traffic and the issue regarding the signboard was resolved. Our border officials have engaged with each other to resolve such issues whenever they arise.”

Turning to the Indian Occupied Kashmir, the spokeswoman said Pakistan had never recognized India’s occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. “It has repeatedly rejected the relevance of the Indian constitution to this dispute territory. We therefore, categorically reject any measures that perpetuate India’s occupation.”